0909 GMT October 22, 2020
With cases rapidly rising, the British government opted this week for a three-tier system of local measures, according to Reuters.
The Liverpool area became the first part of the country in the highest category, requiring gyms and other businesses to shut, perhaps for months.
Johnson said he would stick to this localized approach, responding to opposition leader Keir Starmer’s demand for a temporary national lockdown.
“The whole point is to seize this moment now to avoid the misery of another national lockdown,” Johnson told parliament on Wednesday.
“We’re going to do it – and I rule out nothing, of course, in combating the virus – but we are going to do it with the local, the regional, approach that can drive down and will drive down the virus if it is properly implemented.”
On Wednesday, Northern Ireland, which is outside the tier system, announced the toughest UK coronavirus measures since the pre-summer peak, shutting restaurants and suspending schools.
The British government’s critics say a short, sharp nationwide lockdown could be more effective than local measures, and would spread the economic burden more fairly.
Labour Party leader Starmer called on Tuesday for a 2-3 week lockdown, supported on Wednesday by a study from some of Johnson’s scientific advisers, which found such a move could save thousands of lives.
“The optimal time for a break is always now,” said the paper, coauthored by Graham Medley, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, and Matt Keeling of the government’s pandemic modeling subgroup.
“There are no good epidemiological reasons to delay the break.”